>>WEDDING CEREMONY & VOWS >>
Native American Wedding Vows
Native American Wedding Vows
The rich and diverse cultures of the Native American tribes encompass
many varied wedding customs, traditions and ceremonies. The Manataka
American Indian Council is aware of more than 5,000 different ceremonies
that were shared among the different Native American tribes.
One of these, the Rite of Seven Steps, includes beautiful Native American
wedding vows coupled with symbolic movement and, in some cases, the exchange
of gifts between the bride and groom.
According to the Manataka
American Indian Council, the origins of this ceremony are traced to
tribes in different parts of the continent and cannot be attributed to
any one nation or language group.
With the kind permission of the Manataka
American Indian Council and Native
American Indian wedding coordinator Lee Standing Bear Moore, the following
is an explanation of the Rite of Seven Steps and the Native American wedding
vows that might be stated during the ceremony.
Both bride and groom take seven steps sunwise (clockwise) around the
sacred fire. For each step taken, a vow is said by each. The groom makes
one step forward and says a vow, and then the bride takes a step to join
him and says her vow until one round around the fire is completed. Family
and friends join hands in a circle around the fire.
A variation of the Rite of Seven Steps ceremony has the couple exchanging
gifts after each step to signify each vow given. Example: kernels of corn
represent fertility and growth, a feather stands for truth and loyalty,
a stone stands for strength, solidarity and wisdom. The vows shown below
are only an example of words that may be recited, however, you should
consider writing your own vows.
GROOM STEP 1: O’ my beloved, our love has become firm by your walking
one with me. Together we will share the responsibilities of the lodge,
food and children. May the Creator bless noble children to share. May
they live long.
BRIDE STEP 1: This is my commitment to you, my husband. Together we will
share the responsibility of the home, food and children. I promise that
I shall discharge all my share of the responsibilities for the welfare
of the family and the children.
GROOM STEP 2: O’ my beloved, now you have walked with me the second
step. May the Creator bless you. I will love you and you alone as my wife.
I will fill your heart with strength and courage: this is my commitment
and my pledge to you. May God protect the lodge and children.
BRIDE STEP 2: My husband, at all times I shall fill your heart with courage
and strength. In your happiness I shall rejoice. May God bless you and
our honorable lodge.
GROOM STEP 3: O my beloved, now since you have walked three steps with
me, our wealth and prosperity will grow. May God bless us. May we educate
our children and may they live long.
BRIDE STEP 3: My husband, I love you with single-minded devotion as my
husband. I will treat all other men as my brothers. My devotion to you
is pure and you are my joy. This is my commitment and pledge to you.
GROOM STEP 4: O’ my beloved, it is a great blessing that you have
now walked four steps with me. May the Creator bless you. You have brought
favor and sacredness in my life.
BRIDE STEP 4: O my husband, in all acts of righteousness, in material
prosperity, in every form of enjoyment, and in those divine acts such
as fire sacrifice, worship and charity, I promise you that I shall participate
and I will always be with you.
GROOM STEP 5: O’ my beloved, now you have walked five steps with
me. May the Creator make us prosperous. May the Creator bless us.
BRIDE STEP 5: O my husband, I will share both in your joys and sorrows.
Your love will make me very happy.
GROOM STEP 6: O’ my beloved, by walking six steps with me, you
have filled my heart with happiness. May I fill your heart with great
joy and peace, time and time again. May the Creator bless you.
BRIDE STEP 6: My husband, the Creator blesses you. May I fill your heart
with great joy and peace. I promise that I will always be with you.
GROOM STEP 7: O’ my beloved goddess, as you have walked the seven
steps with me, our love and friendship have become inseparable and firm.
We have experienced spiritual union in God. Now you have become completely
mine. I offer my total self to you. May our marriage last forever.
BRIDE STEP 7: My husband, by the law of the Creator, and the spirits
of our honorable ancestors, I have become your wife. Whatever promises
I gave you I have spoken them with a pure heart. All the spirits are witnesses
to this fact. I shall never deceive you, nor will I let you down. I shall
love you forever.
For more information on Native American weddings, please visit the Manataka
American Indian Council wedding section.
If you are interested in having a Native American wedding, the Manataka
American Indian Council provides wedding coordination services. Although
American Indian spiritual elders are not available in all areas, they
attempt to cover all 50 states.
About Lee Standing Bear Moore:
Born at the Bell Mission in California, Lee Standing Bear Moore is a
Kituwah (Cherokee) storyteller, historian, author and lecturer. Standing
Bear studied American Indian history and customs for more than 35 years.
After being ordained in the Indian Church, Bear first began his long career
of conducting wedding ceremonies at the sacred Manataka (Place of Peace).
During the late 1980’s, Standing Bear served as advisor and special
liaison to the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians in Oklahoma.
A recently release documentary film titled, “The Story of Manataka”
features Standing Bear. He is currently producing a collection of American
Indian children stories scheduled for release next year.
Currently, Standing Bear is secretary and historian for the Manataka
American Indian Council, a nonprofit, educational, cultural and religious
organization with members in forty-five states and five foreign countries.
MAIC sponsors a number of annual American Indian events including the
“Full Circle Celebration of Native America” and “The
Gathering at Manataka.” He also produces American Indian wedding
ceremonies in locations across the country.
He has written articles for newsletters, magazines and newspapers and
appeared on radio and television talk shows. Standing Bear is invited
to present programs to schools, civic groups and churches on a regular
basis. Moore of Hot Springs, Arkansas is a graduate of LaSalle University
with degrees in business law and business administration. He is married
(30 + years) with two daughters.